Texas attack on Planned Parenthood hurts low-income patients

Mubarrat Choudhury

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Oct. 19 that Texas will end Medicare enrollment for Planned Parenthood as a part of a recent conservative attack on women’s health. While this could be problematic for half of the population of Texas, it also could be detrimental to low-income Texans that need Planned Parenthood’s services.

The Office of Inspector General at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission issued a letter to halt the funding of Planned Parenthood clinics, citing the release of highly edited videos that alleged Planned Parenthood profited off the sale of fetal tissue as justification for the recent action.

“Texas has stepped forward and shown its unyielding commitment to both protecting life and providing women’s health services,” Abbott told the Austin Chronicle. “Ending the Medicaid participation of Planned Parenthood in the state of Texas is another step in providing greater access to safe health care for women while protect our most vulnerable — the unborn.”

The issue regarding the action by the government is simple. It’s not a fact of life or question of choice. It’s a fact of politics. The issue surrounding Planned Parenthood and abortion has become something that conservative politicians and pundits use in order to divide the government as a means to get power.

The role of government is supposed to be driving a positive outcome to its citizenry, yet it is the very politics that so many will be negatively impacted with the lack of health care Planned Parenthood provides. Beyond just abortions, Planned Parenthood clinics provide medical services to the women and the low-income alike, such as birth control, HIV tests and cancer screenings. Sarah Wheat, vice president for community affairs for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, said close to 13,000 Texans, including low-income Medicaid clients, would lose access to healthcare that Planned Parenthood clinics provided.

“The governor’s efforts to ban Medicaid patients from receiving their health screenings, annual exams and birth control at Planned Parenthood health centers would reduce healthcare options and trusted resources for healthcare in our communities,” Wheat said.

The practice of denying Medicaid recipients access to Planned Parenthood has already been attempted by Arkansas and Louisiana, both of which have been temporarily banned by federal courts. There is a possibility that the unwarranted act Abbott took may be overturned, meaning that there is hope for those who rely on Planned Parenthood clinics.

Choudhury is an economics freshman from Dallas.